Wednesday, 16 November 2011

WHITE-FRONT at Tyttenhanger - and SHORT-EARED OWLS still present nearby

At 2 pm I visited Tyttenhanger to try and see the Tree Sparrows but unfortunately there was no sign of them in the hedge by the maize strip, just 1 Yellowhammer and 1 Reed Bunting of note (but 25 Red-legs in the neighbouring field). I decided to scope the pit from the high vantage point here, and quickly found 5 grey geese in the marshy area on the right. 4 of these were Greylags, but I was delighted to find that one of them was a White-fronted Goose. The sun was already quite low and was giving the birds a rather soft/colourful tint, but I must admit that I thought the bill of the White-front was rather orange (and not pinkish like the bird I saw yesterday at Wilstone), and it also had quite heavy stomach barring. This made me think it might possibly have been a Greenland... but on speaking to Lee by phone and realising how exceptionally rare a Greenland Wh-fr would be in Herts, I'm sure in retrospect it will prove to be a European White-front and the low light was playing tricks, making the bill appear more orange-ish than it really was. But a great bird all the same, and I was really pleased to see it.

I then moved on to Beech Farm / Hatfield Aerodrome area, where from 2.55 onwards, I had great (if brief) views of hunting Short-eared Owls, with about 9 or 10 connections in the next 30 minutes. There were clearly at least 2 birds (1 paler and 1 darker), but I thought there might possibly be three hunting (although I never saw more than 1 at a time). A real pleasure to see these beautiful birds (Jason Chapman).

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